The winter of 2012 so far has been unseasonably warm. It comes as the Appalachian coal industry faces a time of change, and amid a debate between people who say that coal is helping cause global warming and those who say there’s no such thing. Richard Trumka addressed this question recently. He is the president of America’s largest labor union, the AFL-CIO; before that he was a coal miner and the head of the United Mine Workers. In January, Trumka spoke to a United Nations-sponsored meeting on climate change and energy. He began by stating that climate change is a reality. He said that if we have the will to deal with it properly, reducing carbon emissions will be a huge economic opportunity—but that we won’t do this unless we also pay attention to the people who would suffer—like America’s coal miners. Here is an excerpt from Trumka’s speech, read by Virginia actor and coal miner’s son Frank Taylor.